Freshman Year 2017/18

When I first started college, that in itself was an adventure! Everything was new and exciting, and I had a lot to share with friends and family back home who kept up with my blog. By sophomore year, however, I had pretty much adjusted to college classes and being in Tucson while still awesome was no longer new. It was also during sophomore year that I studied abroad and realized that I liked making more traditional travel-blog style posts. However, my freshman year of college was definitely an adventure that I want to keep here on the blog, so I’ve compiled the 16 posts from that year and am presenting them here. Just a note: The beginning of this references the end of summer 2017, and those posts can be found here. The set of posts that follow this are from my study abroad in Italy and can be found here.

Remember Moments

August 27, 2017

In the last two weeks, I’ve either had three places to be or absolutely nowhere.  This means that in between stresses, I’ve done a bit of reading.  The novel I’m nearly done with at the moment of writing includes the quote, “We do not remember days, we remember moments” (All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven).  So in a very busy two weeks of starting college, here are a few moments that I think were highlights.

First, I should talk about Bear Down Camp since I referenced that previously.  It ended up being a lot of fun – definitely more fun than I expected.  True, learning about campus resources wasn’t the most exciting thing, but getting to know my Cat Chat group and seeing how many stars exist in Prescott, Arizona were pretty great.  Also, while there, I finished John Boyne’s The Heart’s Invisible Furies and, while I don’t have time to write a whole book review, it is definitely one I would recommend.

Then of course, Thursday was the awesome day when my roommate moved in.  Most of the day was spent unpacking and arranging the room, but that was also the night of the Historic Lane pajama party where we watched Ghostbusters.  I should also mention here that “Historic Lane” refers to James E. Rogers Way where three of the oldest dorms (Gila, Maricopa, and Yuma) are located.  Since the dorms are so close, there are several events that involve all of these dorms and are a good way to have fun and get to know people.

Last Saturday was probably one of the busiest days of the entire summer, but it was also really fun!  After waking up at 6 am, I went with my roommate and her parents to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, which is less of a traditional museum and more of a zoo where you really shouldn’t pet the animals.  The museum is almost entirely outside, and you walk through various enclosures with the chance to see everything from javelinas to Monarch butterflies.  It’s a truly remarkable place where you can not only learn a lot, you can also see animals that you can’t find just anywhere.  Naturally, there is also a room that showcases various poisonous reptiles, but, for the faint of heart, those can be avoided.  Saturday evening was the block party on the UA Mall.  I mostly went to this for the free pizza, but I enjoyed a couple of rides while I was there too.

College started officially on Monday along with the eclipse.  I don’t have class until 10, so I went out earlier to see what we could hear of this celestial phenomenon, and although I missed the maximum visibility in Tucson at 10:30, being able to see that was one-in-a-lifetime, and generally really cool.  After the first week, I can say that I like all my classes, and I’m especially excited for English in which we’ll study literature through film, which just sounds awesome.  (We’ll be watching Alien this week.)

Once again, Thursday was a big day with awesome moments.  The first of these came at 5pm when I learned how to make a chocolate chip muffin in a coffee mug (10/10), and then, after evening Spanish class, I went with my roommate to the Historic Hustle – a university-sponsored dance party in Maricopa dorm.  We may have gone for the free food, but we stayed for the photo booth and goofy dancing with friends.  Finally, on Friday, we attended the Picnic at the Park (Park Student Union) where we sampled free food from a variety of restaurants then at 10 pm, we set out to Target for late-night shopping.  This is an annual event for freshmen in which the store stays open until 1 just for students to go shopping, and, of course, the alumni band was serenading our search for vegetable stock.

On the whole, it’s been a busy but exciting two weeks, and I’m feeling good about the year ahead.  And before I go to the pictures off, here’s a final book recommendation – Born a Crime by Trever Noah.  Until next time ~

For the Time Being

September 10, 2017

There’s a Sylvia Plath quote I used in my graduation speech that says, “Remember, remember, this is now, and now, and now.  Live it.  Feel it.  Cling to it.”  I finished reading a really good book this morning called A Tale for the Time Being that talks a lot about the way time passes and how we live through each moment.  I could write a whole blog post just on this book and things it made me think of, but for the time being (:P) I’ll just use it to talk about settling into life at UA.  With the first week behind me, things are settling into patterns.  I know when I have classes, and I know when a good time is to get coffee or tea.  I also know that I have more free time than I expected.

My roommate is an astronomy and physics major, so I have the down-low on all the astronomy events.  I may not be studying it officially, but I love the night sky.  Last Thursday, we went to an event at the Steward Observatory on campus to look through a really powerful optical telescope and see a couple stars (Vega and a binary system I don’t recall the name of), Saturn, and the moon.  This was unlike anything I’ve ever done before, and it was really cool.  What’s even better is that courtesy of the Astronomy Club we joined, we’ll receive telescope training in a few weeks and participate in stargazing events.

Last weekend was pleasantly long, and my mom flew in to visit.  There were a few delays, but once she got here, we drove up to Kitt’s Peak Observatory.  This primarily has optical telescopes with only two radio telescopes, but it is mostly known for the McMath-Pierce Solar Telescope, which is the largest solar instrument in the world.  It was so cool to see all the telescopes there and even go inside to look at a few (not through them though).  On Sunday, we also drove up Mt. Lemmon.  It’s a good place to go hiking, but I didn’t want to be the one driving the first time I went up.  There are a lot of good views, and pictures can’t really capture how spectacular it is.  For anyone planning to visit though, the drive is completely worth it just for the fudge at the top of the mountain.

Since Monday was Labor Day, and we weren’t in class, we went on a trip with the school’s hiking club to Tanque Verde Falls.  It’s a 1.8 mile hike each way, and since both of us have gone hiking before we didn’t think it would be too difficult…

They didn’t tell us at at least 0.8 of that each way trip was basically rock climbing.  We also didn’t really count on the hot sun without shade, so we were a bit dehydrated by the end.  And by “a bit” I mean they made me drink a liter of electrolyte water.  It didn’t taste to bad though, and when we got back to the dorm we just kind of slept and ordered calzones for dinner.

The rest of the week was mostly just going to classes and a few events.  For example, today we’ll be meeting the Honors College Dean (there’s free food), and last night we did our English homework while eating ice cream.  The benefit of Honors English is that as long as the teachers meet a few vague objectives, they can teach how they want.  Our class’s theme is “Invasions,” and our first essay can be on either Alien or Independence Day.  So, here are a few final pictures, and I’ll get back to writing for class.

Until next time ~

A Brief Note

September 24, 2017

This post will just be a quick update with mostly pictures, since I haven’t done a lot in the last two weeks excepting last weekend, which was packed.  Friday night, I saw the Broadway version of The Little Mermaid, then on Saturday, my roommate and I went on a picnic with the astronomy club and later saw the Rocky Horror Picture Show.  I also spent a good portion of the last two weeks working on group projects, so that took up most of my free time.  Here are a few pictures though.

This weekend, the primary event was my trip to the art museum (University of Arizona Museum of Art), which admittedly was pretty cool!  Rather than posting pictures of the art though, here are a few of my scenic pictures of Tucson.

Until next time ~


October 8, 2017

Well, it’s midterm season.  It’s hard to believe I’ve been in college for almost two months now (or that I’ll be coming home for Christmas in another two).   Fortunately for me, only one of my classes has an actual midterm exam, and that’s done.  On the other hand, I have three presentations due in the next week and a half, but those are mostly ready.

Since I last posted here, my dorm hosted a movie night where we watched Hocus Pocus to get in the Halloween mood.  This has also led to Halloween-esque drawings on the blackboard I put on our door.  I also attended an event for (one of) my department(s) where there happened to be really cute dogs to pet.  And last Saturday, I went to lunch at the West African restaurant Alafia.  My French teacher invited both his classes, and we ended up taking over most of the restaurant.  The food was absolutely incredible, and it was really fun to speak French outside the classroom.

In this past week, my roommate and I went to a Pumpkin Spice Party where we learned about sustainability in the environment and also go to eat pumpkin flavored things while drinking iced pumpkin spice lattés.  The evening was topped off when we both won reusable Starbucks cups.  Friday was once again a busy day since, after Arabic tutoring at 8 am, I went to a coffee and bagels get-together with my dorm’s faculty fellow.  I also had a long but fun meeting with my peer mentor in the afternoon before getting dinner and going over to Centennial Hall at 8 pm to see the Carole King Musical.  I wasn’t sure what to expect from this one, but it was actually really cool!  I was pleasantly surprised to know a lot of the songs in the musical.  The rest of this weekend has been laid back with a lot of homework to work on, but overall it’s been a lot of fun.  I can’t wait to schedule for next semester, which I’ll do in a little over a week!

Until next time ~

An Amazing October (so far)

October 22, 2017

The last two weeks have been packed with a lot of fun stuff from poetry night to the Haunted Dungeon.  On poetry night, everyone in the dorm was invited to come down to the lobby where people shared poems they like and ate a lot of nice snacks.  I had a lot of fun and even read a couple (“Song” by Christina Rosseti and “When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer” by Walt Whitman).  We also had game night in our hall, and we played a few rounds of Spoons then about an hour of Catchphrase.  I’d never played either game, so I had a lot of fun learning.

This week, I registered for my classes next semester  and started my 7-week class on the Honors Common Reading book Just Mercy.  I also attended an alcohol awareness event in the dorm where we not only learned about alcohol, we also got free rootbeer floats and played MarioKart while wearing drunk goggles.  Then, of course, this Saturday was the Haunted Dungeon that has been in the works since August.  My roommate and I started helping with set-up at 9 am, had an hour lunch break at 1 pm, and finished our set up around 3:30.  We took a break nap after that until 6 pm when we got dinner and came back to do a final walk-through before the event started at 8.  It was a lot of fun being behind the scenes and able to scare people.  The whole thing looked incredible and went off almost without a hitch!  It was around midnight when we got back to the dorm since we had to take everything down, but it was worth it after a fun night, and I stayed in today to finish doing this weekend’s homework.

I also read some great books this past week, notably Turtles All the Way Down by John Green and Watchlist, a short story collection edited by Bryan Hurt.  I also made my way to the library today to pick up some Ray Bradbury and F. Scott Fitzgerald, which will get me through my Arabic and Spanish tests this week.  And finally, a shout out to my aunt Nancy and FUMC for the awesome care packages this week!  I’m definitely set on snacks for awhile!

Until next time ~

November in Tucson

November 5, 2017

It’s strange to think that I’ll be coming home for Christmas in a little over a month.  This semester has gone by so quickly, and these past few weeks were no exception.  After a busy week of midterms and presentations, we went to 4th Ave last week to do a bit of Christmas shopping.  It seemed a little warm at 80 degrees, but it was a lot of fun.  Not to mention, there was the costume contest in Astronomy Club and the Night in Azkaban where one of the dorms had been turned into Hogwarts from Harry Potter.  They had some really cool decorations, and although we weren’t there for long, it was a lot of fun.

This week started with little pouches of candy sitting outside every door in the hall.  I’ve had all the candy I could want this week from professors, events, and really just being on campus.  On the 31st, I went to Spanish class as Captain Picard then met up with some friends for a Halloween treat of ice cream.  Then yesterday, I went to Biosphere 2 as a part of my Honors Catalyst class.  Since we were only there for a few hours, we could not see everything, but my group went through the rainforest and beach biomes both of which were awesome!  The whole idea behind the Biosphere is cool, and in visiting Tucson, I think it is a must-see.

This week I’ll mostly be keeping up with classes and finishing what projects I can before Thanksgiving.  It will be strange not to be home for that, but I’m excited to see everyone at Christmas, which will be here very soon!

Until next time ~

Veteran’s Day and the VLBA

November 19, 2017

By far one of the most remarkable events of the past two weeks was experiencing some actual November weather.  Although I’ve had a lot of Christmas drinks from Starbucks over the past few weeks while working on end-of-semester projects, it’s stayed about 80 degrees here in Tucson.  On Kitt Peak, however, things are different.  I spent Veteran’s Day weekend enjoying my day off, doing homework, and setting up the Christmas tree, but this weekend was really exciting!

Saturday at 2 pm, we left the university to go up to Kitt Peak Observatory.  Wearing leggings, jeans, and a long-sleeve shirt, I was pretty hot while waiting for the group to assemble, but once we reached Kitt Peak, I added my sweatshirt.  The trip is one the astronomy club does every year to walk on the dish of the VLBA telescope and look at the stars after dark.  The VLBA (Very Large Baseline Array) is a series of ten radio telescopes across the US that uses interferometry to process large amounts of data.  If you include all ten telescopes, it is technically the largest telescope in the world.  The climb up to the dish was a bit harrowing, but it was completely worth it to stand there!

After the dish, we drove up to the astronomers’ lodge for dinner where I ate a Chick-fil-a sandwich that I am proud to say I kept insulated for five hours after I bought it.  After sunset, we drove back down the mountain a bit to the twelve-meter telescope and parked outside to look at the stars.  The drive down to the telescope was remarkable in its own right because the sun had just set, and with the view from the mountains, we could see the remaining colors over the western horizon while the Summer Triangle was already shining overhead (and slightly to the east).  In the distance, we could see to Tucson which looked so much smaller from this distance.

We stayed to watch the stars for a few more hours, while one of the astronomy professors pointed out constellations.  We had a few optical telescopes belonging to the club with which we looked at a fuzzy Andromeda Galaxy, a few nebulae, and some binary stars including Alberio which has two different colored stars – one blue and one yellow.  The Milky Way was clearly visible above us, and there were even some shooting stars thanks to the Leonid Meteor Shower.  Orion was rising as we drove back into Tucson, signaling winter to me, although I had to shed a few layers once we were back in the city.  It was an incredible experience, and I’m really glad I got to see it!

Until next time ~

Going Home!

December 4, 2017

It’s hard to believe that a week from now I’ll be back in West Virginia!  The last couple weeks have actually been pretty relaxing, even with finals approaching.  Thanksgiving break was definitely relaxing, although it was a little strange to have dinner with only six people, since the meal was just for people staying in the dorms over the break.

Although in Tucson, the weather is still firmly in the 70s and 80s, it’s clearly getting close to Christmas, so my roommate and I went to see some of the decorations that are up on University Blvd.  Despite the decorations, I still wore a sundress to church yesterday.  I can’t convince myself it’s cold when I still work up a sweat walking across campus.

Since I have been studying for finals and finishing projects, I haven’t done a lot of exciting things over the past two weeks.  Also, since I’ll be going home, this will be my last blog of the year.  So here are a few pictures and a wish for everyone to have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Until Next Time ~

Back to the Grind

January 15, 2018

Well, I’m back in Tucson and ready for semester #2 of college.  I had a lot of fun over Christmas break and really enjoyed getting to see everyone back home again.  (It was also really great to see Rodger’s and Hammerstein’s Cinderella before I came home.) Christmas was great, and it was awesome to spend so much time with my family.  By far my favorite part of the break was going to eat at the Secret Sandwich Society in the snow.  Also the snow was pretty nice.  I love the 80 degrees here, but a break was all right.

It was a little stressful flying back, but I had dinner with one of my friends and got to settle back into my dorm.  Of course, I’ve already been back to The Fix for some gourmet mac n cheese to start the semester off right.  I haven’t gotten to do a lot here in Tucson  yet but my classes seem like they’ll be a  lot of fun and very  interesting.  I’m especially excited for my Honors Colloquium on How Stories Work.  So here are a few shots from around Tucson in the wonderful weather.

Until next time ~

January in Review

January 28, 2018

I’ve been in class for only three weeks now, but it feels like a lot more than that.  The month has flown by, and I can’t quite believe it’s almost over.  In these opening weeks of the semester, I have mostly just adjusted to classes since clubs are only now starting again.  Although I plan to join a Lezginka dancing group (a very professional example of the style) and will be going on more trips with the astronomy club, for now I’m just going to go into detail a bit about some of my classes.

Arabic & French: These languages are quite different, but since they’re both languages, I”m grouping them together here.  In both classes, I have the first major assignment due this week (an essay for French [finished] and a video for Arabic [not finished]).  Anyone who knows me knows that I love languages, so even when these classes get challenging, I still enjoy them – in part because of the challenge!  It also helps to learn fun new words like the adjective “raplapla” in French, meaning roughly worn out.

Global Studies: Probably my favorite class so far, this is one of those classes that tells me I chose the right major.  There are two foundation classes in this major, one of which I took last semester that focused on global cultures and languages, and its compliment which discusses states and institutions.  We’ve spent the first several classes discussing “Globalization” and both its advantages and disadvantages.  As we come to the end of this unit, we will be studying the effects of and reactions to globalization in specific regions of the world (Europe, Africa, Mid East, East Asia, and Central America).  My professor is one of my favorites for how engaged and excited he is to discuss the topics with us.

Linguistics: As I said already, I love languages, and knowing how they work is fascinating to me.  This class is surprisingly easy (we have not yet had any homework), but I find it interesting to learn about the phonetic alphabet and, when attempting to transcribe words, realize that my transcriptions are different from the person next to me because my accent means I  pronounce the  word differently.

Astrobiology: Gen eds are supposed to be fun, right?  Apparently this is one of the more difficult science gen eds (you actually do math; it isn’t just a lecture), but when I saw there was a class about how we search for alien life, I had to sign up.  So far the class has been really interesting and not as difficult as I was led to believe since the math component is no harder than general science in 9th grade.

Guitar: So since I’m minoring in art history, I don’t actually need a fine arts gen ed credit, but a one-unit guitar class sounded fun.  After only two actual classes, I am pleasantly surprised that I can actual play something that resembles music.  Although I attempted to teach myself guitar in 11th grade, it’s completely different to actually have a teacher, a textbook, and requirements to meet.  This is basically my relaxing class because, despite my issues with stretching from fret to fret, playing any sort of music after memorizing a map of Europe is fairly calming.

Honors Colloquium: My last class to mention here is another one credit class, required for all freshmen in the Honors College.  Out of 50 options, I chose “How Stories Work,” and already  I’m having a lot of fun learning about narrative and rhetoric and how they engage us in stories.  My professor here as well is a lot of fun, and I’m really excited to continue with the class.

So, in short, I’m enjoying all my classes and excited about where they’re going.  It’s a heavy schedule, but I also like having the discipline of it and being able to learn so much.  My weekends especially are great; on Sundays, it’s fun to go to church in the morning, eat lunch, and then spend a few hours at the library Starbucks to prepare for the coming week.  To conclude here’s a few pictures from my first few weeks.

Until next time ~

Stars and Things

February 11, 2018

Wow, a lot has been going on the last two weeks!  I started going to Lezginka classes for one thing.  Lezginka is a style of dance from the Caucasus region, and though the style varies from place to place, it basically mimics the flight of eagles.  It’s a lot of fun and a really good workout too.  I joined another club as well – the National Society for Collegiate Scholars.  It’s a philanthropy club that I’m really excited to get involved with, and they also do fun things like movie nights, one of which I attended on Friday.

Food is also a great thing to talk about.  The RA in my wing has started organizing a little snack-time get-together on Monday afternoons, and it’s super fun to hang out and talk with people over cookies.  Every dorm also has a Faculty Fellow, who is a member of the faculty who works on organizing some events and getting to know the students.  Yesterday, she ran a CV workshop and brought vegetable lasagna that was absolutely spectacular. Today, she also got tickets to take 15 students to see the play Doubt:  A  Parable by John  Patrick Shanley.

Normally I would be in class at this time of day

And finally, astronomy!  Although I didn’t get any pictures of the super-blue-blood moon last week, we did get up early to see it, which was incredible!  The astronomy club also took a trip to Kitt Peak Observatory last weekend where we toured the WIYN and the 12-meter telescopes before having a star party where we look at the stars with our own telescopes and the naked eye.  Driving back to campus around 10pm, we were all a little hungry, so a group decision was made to go to IHOP, which is where we were until midnight since they were surprisingly crowded.

Beyond that, I’ve been working hard on school stuff, except for that one day where my Global Studies professor was in Japan and had to cancel class.  That day I went to Starbucks.  But all the hard work is paying off – on Wednesday, I received official approval to study abroad in France next fall!  I can’t wait to finalize everything with that, but I’m also still loving the classes I’m in now

Until next time ~

Chilly in Tucson

February 25, 2018

The weather the last two weeks has not been the Tucson weather I signed up for.   With highs in the sixties, and A LOT of rain last week, it’s been a little cold and dismal.  Fortunately, however, the weather was bright and warm last Saturday for the Tucson Rodeo (a.k.a La Fiesta de Los Vaqueros).  The rodeo has been going on all this week, but I was lucky enough to be there for the opening day.  I wasn’t really sure  what to expect to be honest, but it was actually a lot like in the movies with riders attempting to stay on a horse’s back for eight seconds, and steer wrestling.  It’s not completely my style, but the food stands and games around the stadium reminded me of the State Fair back home.  Ultimately, I had a lot of fun!

While I don’t have pictures of it, I also had the opportunity this week to see a performance of Dances Near and Far performed by the UA Dance department with a few guests.  It was absolutely amazing, and even though it was  30 degrees as I walked back to my dorm, it was completely worth it!  The performances featured everything from folk dances from Ireland to modern creations like “STYX” by Michael Williams, which draws inspiration from Greek mythology.  One of the highlights though had to be “America Through the Ages.”  This included excerpts from a complete show performed a few years ago that was condensed for this program to include square dancing, swing, and hip-hop.  It was a really incredible program to watch.

Cold enough for a cappuccino

That’s about it for this post, but with spring break just around the corner, I’m excited to see a bit more of Tucson in the next couple of weeks.

Until next time ~

Orange Blossom Spring

March 18, 2018

I knew spring was here when I walked out of my dorm and found myself enveloped in the scent of the orange blossoms on the trees around the buildings.  Every where you walk on campus now, there are flowers blooming.  Although the greenery never really left for the winter, now everything is in bloom, and it’s like a constant reminder that after spring comes summer.  I found out a little over a week ago that I’ve been accepted to the Arizona in Orvieto program and will be spending a month of my summer in Italy  to study art history, so that’s some exciting news!

Exploring Tucson

Since the last time I wrote, spring break has come and gone, which means I’ve done a lot.  For example, just before break, I had the opportunity to tour the Tree Ring Laboratory on campus.  The history of this lab is actually really interesting, since its founder is considered the pioneer of Dendrochronology  (Tree Ring Dating).  As a friend of the astronomer Percival Lowell, Andrew Elliot Douglass initially thought that tree rings could help explain the eleven-year sunspot cycle.  He was wrong, but the establishment of the Tree Ring Laboratory has led to discoveries of a lot of things trees can tell us.  The scientists here have worked with researchers around the world to date objects and learn about the environment.   It was a really incredible tour, and I definitely recommend a visit to the lab because even if you aren’t interested in the history of forest fires, you may be intrigued by the remains of an Ottoman Empire bridge that was constructed in Turkey from Moroccan wood (because they can actually tell you where a random piece of wood came from).

Tree Ring Laboratory

Although I’ve been in Tucson for almost a year now, I haven’t seen a lot of the things in the city, so it was fun over break to go to Reid Park Zoo and see the lions and tigers and bear.  My favorite part though was definitely the bull elephants who got into a bit of a tussle over a branch while we watched.  They also have Red Pandas and some incredible aviaries for bird enthusiasts like me.  Be warned though –  there are at least a dozen peacocks, and they kind of just go where they want.

I also went to three museums.  I had been to the UA Museum of Art, but they had some new exhibits from the last time I went, and I never get tired of looking at the old paintings in which Baby Jesus doesn’t look like any baby I’ve ever seen in real life.  I had also toured the Arizona State Museum, but the Paths of Life exhibit on the history of Native Americans in Arizona is packed with information.   Also I get into both of those for free as a student, so that’s another reason they’re great.  Finally, I went to the Arizona History Museum, which first of all is much bigger on the inside than it looks from the street.  This museum started with Native Americans, progressed to early settlers and then went into a huge exhibit about mining that included a realistically shadowy and creepy set of the inside of a mine and a life size contraption that processed the ore.  Because all this wasn’t enough to fill the deceptively small building, there was also an exhibit on 1870s Tucson with an interactive second level for kids to see the kinds of houses lived in by the various kinds of families in the city.  Beyond that, you move into the transportation part of the museum that features glassy-eyed horses, oxen, and a Model T.  Finally, there is a room with  pictures of the city’s history, and  you return to the lobby.

Overall, spring break was very  relaxing and a lot of fun with a culmination in the annual Tucson Festival of Books in which the white tents that have been covering the campus for weeks were put to use by thousands of people buying books, attending lectures, receiving flyers, and eating fair food.  An important note: Fair food in Tucson is not limited to cotton candy and overpriced cheese fries, it also includes churros and slightly overpriced tamales that are still worth it because they’re delicious.  I had the opportunity to attend a talk by actress Jenna Fischer, best known for her role on The Office. Studying at the library last Sunday was also fun because the Tohono O’odham pavilion outside the library was putting on a small concert while I studied.

School’s back in session now, but the advantage of the second half of the semester is that you have more long-term assignments and  less day-to-day homework.  So although I’m spending about the same amount of time on homework, the stress is a little less since if I need to, I can delay French to practice for my guitar midterm (which is what I’ve done this weekend).  I also got to see The King and I performed on campus, which was kind of the main reason I bought season tickets for these Off-Broadway shows, and it did not disappoint!  I love the musical and already knew the songs, but seeing it live was spectacular!   The semester feels like it’s flying by, but I’m loving the flowers and the stuff I’m learning.  I don’t want my classes to end, but I also can’t wait for summer.

Until next time ~


April 1, 2018

As mentioned before, spring in Tucson is really nice.  And lucky for me, I got to experience everything in bloom at the Botanical Gardens last weekend!  Since I’ve started volunteering with the Udall Foundation’s Parks in Focus program, this was my first outing.  It was pretty laid back since this was in conjunction with Big Brothers Big Sisters, so every child had an adult with them.  For me though, it meant a very relaxing introduction to Parks in Focus and a fun morning looking at flowers.  I took a lot of pictures, but here are a few favorites.

I also had the opportunity to see Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in Concert last weekend.  I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but basically, it was just watching the movie in a giant concert hall, but all the music was performed live thanks to some sort of contract with the film company.   We sat in the very top, with only three rows above us, but it was still a lot of fun, and the conductor said at the beginning of the show to interact.  This, of course, meant cheering for your house when it was mentioned, and clapping for the orchestra at the end of exciting numbers. Also Tucson Music Hall is a really cool building, and I really liked being there.

With the school year coming to an end, I really haven’t done a lot else in the last couple of weeks, but I’m definitely looking forward to the summer.  So far I’ve made a packing list and attended a Health and Safety session about what to do in various worst-case scenarios from losing your passport to needing to go to the hospital.   Basically, that was the scare session, and the discussion session in April will be more focused on getting excited about the trip.  And, of course, today is  Easter, so I  celebrated by going to my church’s  7:30 service in the courtyard  followed by some community  service, brunch, and a big actual service.   The weather is lovely, and I’m really just enjoying the springtime.

Until next time ~

Iced Coffees and Sunburns

April 15, 2018

April is halfway over, so of course the weather is in the mid 90s (except for Friday on which the temperature inexplicably hovered around 65).  It feels like a lot more than two weeks have passed since I last posted because I’ve done a lot of stuff.  Last week, for example, I attended a screening of a documentary and a guitar concert both of which were excellent.

Iced Coffee to power through Sunday afternoon homework and heat

The documentary I saw was Sonita about an Afghani girl who dreams of becoming a rapper.  Unlike most documentaries you may have seen, the filmmaker in Sonita takes an active role in Sonita’s story, which, if you’re in the mood for it, can create a really interesting discussion on the role of the documentarian in making films.  Or, if that’s not your style, you can sit back and let yourself become involved in Sonita’s story because whether or not you think the filmmaker should be objective, Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami (the director) is very talented in making the audience both understand and care about Sonita’s struggle.  Should she pursue her dream or go home to marry as her family wants?  The film is mostly in Dari with some Arabic and English, but there are English subtitles throughout.  If you don’t have time to watch the whole documentary though (available on Netflix), I recommend at least watching Sonita’s video in which she protests child marriage that has, in the years since the making of the documentary, become her primary platform.   I highly recommend both!

I also had  the opportunity last week to see guitarist Grisha Goryachev in concert.  Although the link provides more biography, for my purposes it’s suffice to say that Goryachev, who specializes in Flamenco music, is a thoroughly impressive guitarist.  It was a lovely way to spend an evening and a nice way to preface celebrating my birthday last Friday  (thanks to everyone who posted on Facebook or otherwise said hi!).   Coincidentally, one of the clubs I’m in was having a Masquerade Ball to raise money for Diamond Children’s Center in Tucson.  The event was beautifully decorated with great food, and I had a lot of fun just making cards to give to the kids.

Because all that isn’t enough, I got up early the next day to go to Tohono Chul with Parks in Focus.  This was my first real outing with the group, and I had a lot of fun hanging out with the kids and also exploring the park.  I look forward to future trips, even though it’s getting hot.  But the warm weather is part of why I came to Tucson anyway, and Spring Fling this weekend reminded me of that.  Sure I got a sunburn, but it was wonderful weather to wander around a fair on campus.  With the summer coming, they’ve started selling glass-bottle sodas on campus, so we had a nice lunch in the sun eating churros and curly fries with cream sodas.  So now, as I head into the final weeks of the semester, I’m just enjoying the sun and drinking iced coffee to stay cool while I work.

Until next time~

Finishing Freshman Year

April 29, 2018

The school year is winding down, and it’s finally starting to feel that way.  The last week was basically THE WEEK for end-of-the-year projects and events, but fortunately there are still a few ways to relax.  My highlights were definitely karaoke and French pastries – unfortunately not at the same time.  And though this weekend has been spent finishing projects and studying for finals, last weekend was an absolute blast at Chiricahua National Monument.  As I’ve been volunteering with Parks in Focus, one of the events I went to was the first of the year’s camping trips, and it was really a perfect weekend.  The kids were actually really well-behaved for a group of ten-year-olds released into a National Wilderness Area.  Sure, there was some complaining on the hikes, but I think by the end of it, the important thing wasn’t that anyone’s legs hurt but that the area is really scenic.  I, for one, would not mind going back and exploring a few more of the trails.  And it didn’t hurt that there was a meteor shower Sunday morning, so a few of us chaperones got up around three to see the stars, and I am always up for stargazing.

Since the year is basically over, I’m going to be taking a small hiatus for most of May (planning to post again on May 27).  That means this is my last post for the academic year of 2017/18, and since it’s my freshman year, here are my Top Five tips/lessons learned.

  1. Go to stuff

It’s not always the most fun, especially for an introvert like me, but it tends to be worth it – particularly if there are professors at the event because they like it when students show up.  And I know this because showing up to events with my dorm’s faculty fellow actually got me a bit of paid work over spring break and a letter of recommendation.  As a college student, these are two very good things.

Performing at the Arabic Talent Show

2. Talk in class

This is one where sometimes I’m good at it and sometimes I’m not.  I’m good at it when I know the answer and less so when I don’t.  But, as my French professor (in a class called French Conversation) said, teachers like students who talk.  It lets them get to know you, and particularly in language classes, it helps you improve (and I should know considering that 21/40 of my credit hours this year have been language classes).

Tripod on head
I don’t know what to say about this.

3. Develop a routine for studying

I do a lot of studying, and I find that it’s much easier to do that when I’m doing it at a set time rather than trying to force myself to do it at random times or especially right before a deadline.  My favorite thing to do is to take Sunday afternoons and just sit at the library Starbucks for a few hours preparing for the week, writing scholarship essays, and occasionally blogging.  In fact, can you guess where I’m writing this from?

Go adventuring too!

4. Eat good food

Before college I’d always heard about the “Freshman 15,” but for me it worked negatively.  A lot of that is probably the amount of walking I do, but another part of it was that I found it a little difficult to figure out where to get my food and when to eat it.   So, for any incoming freshmen, I would recommend stocking up on tasty but healthy snacks and keeping a few in your backpack and at the very least trying to have a set time to eat dinner.  Whether you lose or gain weight, the important thing is to be healthy about it so you aren’t over- or under-eating.

I absolutely love going to The Fix on Monday evenings

5. Remember that no one actually cares what you wear

I’ve always had this thing where I think people are looking at me or questioning my apparel, but the thing is, no one really does.  In my experience, people don’t tend to wear pajamas to class, but you will see people who live in vintage dresses and button down shirts and people who live in gym clothes.  Every Saturday since February, I’ve seen people just walking around in bathing suits as they go to and from the pool.  So, even if I’m not comfortable wearing my swimsuit to the student union, it’s nice to switch from baggy cargo shorts to a sundress and have no one bat an eye.

Karaoke Night (“Holding Out for a Hero” Shrek 2 version)

And that’s about it!  My first year of college has been pretty great, and I’m really looking forward to everything that’s coming in the future – the next time I post will be from Italy!  I’m certainly excited for that, so

Until next time ~


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